Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The five toughest Top 100 calls among active players

The NHL will unveil its heavily hyped Top 100 list of the league's greatest players this weekend as part of the all-star festivities in Los Angeles. The list won't be ranked, but it's still sure to cause some controversy as fans pour over who makes the cut and who gets snubbed.

In the leadup to the announcement, there's been some confusion over how many active players have been included. Initial reports suggested there were only six, which seemed far too low. Later, it was suggested that there may be six of this year's all-stars on the list, in addition to several other active players who weren't taking part in the weekend's events. That seemed to make more sense, although the league hasn't confirmed anything.

Sorting out which active players to include is harder than it might seem, and I found that out firsthand. After criticizing the league for chickening out on doing a ranked list, I was approached about working on one of my own. The end result was an e-book, co-authored with Greg Wyshynski and Dave Lozo, that was released this week.

Here's what I learned: This stuff is harder than it looks.

And having been through the process of pulling together a Top 100, I can tell you that figuring out where to slot in active players may be the toughest calls of all. Remember, you're comparing guys who are still in mid-career to other players' finished products.

Sometimes, it's easy. Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin were no-brainers for the Top 25, and veterans like Jaromir Jagr, Jarome Iginla and Joe Thornton made the list without much argument. But other guys turned out to be more contentious debates.

Here are the five toughest calls among active players that we ran into, and what we ended up doing with them.

The Sedins

When we built our list, we were looking at two key questions: Was the player ever considered one of the best in the league, and were they able to consistently produce over the course of a long career? The Sedins check both boxes.

Both have won an Art Ross. Both were postseason all-stars on multiple occasions. Henrik won a Hart Trophy in 2010, and you could make a strong case that Daniel should have in 2011 (he finished second to Corey Perry in a close vote). And both have been consistent producers for over a decade.

So sure, they're great players. But top 100? Henrik just hit the 1,000-point milestone and Daniel will get there soon, but lots of guys have reached that mark. Competition for a spot on the list was tight, as you'd expect given we're dealing with 100 years of history. For example, we were surprised that we couldn't find room for names like Mike Modano or Doug Gilmour, both of whom will probably top the Sedins by over 300 points when all is said and done.

True, the twins played their entire careers in a lower-scoring era than many of the guys ahead of them on the all-time scoring list. But even factoring that in, they're far from a slam dunk.

Our call: They both made the list. But just barely.

Carey Price

The Sedins were a tough call, but at least they're closing in on the end of their careers. Players like Price are even trickier, because we don't have any idea where they'll wind up. The Canadiens' goalie hasn't even turned 30 yet, so there's a lot of runway left here.

That said, his resume is already impressive. He won the Hart Trophy, which few goaltenders have managed to do. Of course, so did Jose Theodore, and he's not on anybody's Top 100 list.

Price is no Theodore – settle down, Habs fans – and there are goaltenders with shorter careers than his who made our list easily. But those guys won multiple Vezinas. Price hasn't… yet.

>> Read the full post at The Hockey News

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